“Five lessons Tablet OEMs Can Learn From HP TouchPad Fiasco”

August 19, 2011

By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes | August 19, 2011, 10:55am PDT

Summary: Lesson One: Don’t launch a product, launch an ecosystem.

So, HP’s TouchPad tablet went from launch to having the plug pulled on it in 49 days. What lessons can other tablet OEMs learn from this fiasco.

Don’t launch a product, launch an ecosystem

One of the biggest mistakes that HP made with the TouchPad was to  release a product and then hope that an ecosystem would magically form around it. Things might have worked that way with the iPhone, but that was a long time ago and the platform didn’t have much in the way of competition.

Why should consumers gamble on a product like the TouchPad (and HP’s lack of commitment to the platform shows just how much of a gamble it was) when there is an established player in the market.

New products entering the market now need to have an ecosystem that users can tap into. If a company wants to launch a product without a decent ecosystem to support it, then that company better have invested in time travel technology, because the only way it’s going to work is to travel back in time to a world before the iPad.

Have a little faith in your products

How much faith do you think HP had in the TouchPad to trash the project in 49 days?

When consumers by a PC or a tablet or a smartphone, they don’t just want a device, they want to see a long-term commitment from the vendor in the form of updates and apps. This means that users expect a vendor to properly support a product for a decent length of time (a few years).

If HP can bin the TouchPad so rapidly, how committed is it to its other products and services? What message does this send customers and potential customers?

Don’t expect a weekend blockbuster

I’m not really sure how many TouchPads HP was expecting to sell in the first year, but I can’t imagine how bad the initial sales had to be for the company to dump the product after less then two months.

Did HP expect the TouchPad to be an overnight success? Seriously? Has hardware gone the way of movies where success or failure is judged on the basis of the first weekend? I hope not.

Don’t take people’s money if you can’t deliver

Companies don’t operate in a vacuum, and dumping products shortly after releasing them isn’t a good way to build long-term consumer confidence.

Think about it – if you’d just bought a TouchPad, would you be in the mood to buy another HP product in a hurry?

Unknown operating systems are a gamble

People have heard of Windows and Mac, and Android and iOS. webOS came from nowhere and HP expected people to embrace it without giving customers a solid ‘why’. The promise of apps and updates wasn’t enough (and given that the platform died within a couple of months, can you blame people for being wary).

If you’re going to bring out a tablet with an unknown OS, take the time to actually sell it to customers.

Where do you think HP went wrong with the TouchPad?